A guide to online banking services

Enjoying the benefits of online banking services

There was a time when every act of banking required parking your car, walking inside, waiting in line and interacting with a human bank teller. While some may still prefer a physical banking experience, you should know there’s a long list of services offered by online banking. With no lines and 24-hour access, online banking is a convenient and easy option worth considering. 

Physical banks aren’t going away, but if you’re new to online banking or are looking to better utilize advancing technology, here is a list of online banking services that may make your financial life a little easier.

Opening an account

Whether you want a checking account, a savings account, or even a CD or money market account, many banks allow you to open the account without stepping foot in a branch. That means less time and less hassle.

Depending on the bank, you’ll need personal details like your driver’s license number and your Social Security number. If you have those handy, you may be able to start banking online in a matter of minutes.1

Mobile deposits

You can probably still picture the experience: the stacks of deposit slips, the pens chained to the desk, plastic tubes ferrying your money into the ether. Depositing money was one of the last transactions that required traveling to the bank. While you can still visit your branch if you really miss those pens, you now have more options when it comes to depositing your checks.

Of all the online banking benefits and advantages, few save more time than mobile deposits. Many bank apps now allow customers to endorse a check, photograph it and deposit it in a matter of minutes—an act so seamless it feels a little like magic. Banks sometimes place limits on how much you can deposit in a single transaction or over the course of a day, and sometimes all of the funds aren’t available immediately.2 But even with those limitations, depositing a check by app is a great time-saving perks of online banking features and services.

Online (and automatic) transfers

Saving money can be challenging. Banks with online banking services make it a little easier. Instead of having to write a check from one account to another, you can simply transfer money from your checking into your savings account with a few clicks.

Maybe you’re saving up for a trip across the pond. You could occasionally jump online and move some money from checking to savings, which on most bank sites can be done in a few clicks. Many banks also allow you to set up automatic transfers at scheduled times.3 Each week or month, you can have your bank transfer money from checking to savings, keeping you on track for that trip. Or you can have a portion of your paycheck transferred into savings every pay period, keeping you on track without even thinking about it.

Transferring money between accounts to friends or family is another one of the services provided by online banking. If you’re out to dinner with a group or chipping in on a big birthday gift, you can easily send money from your account without having to ask if anyone has change for a $20.

Online bill pay

Whether it’s your cell phone carrier or cable provider, most companies allow you to pay bills on their websites. But it can be hard to keep track of all those accounts, which is where the financial services for online banking really comes in handy.

Setting up bill pay on your bank's website or mobile app brings all of your bills to one location. From a single page, you can add or delete payees, pay a one-time charge or schedule recurring payments (like rent) for automatic monthly withdrawal.4 The bank will even mail physical checks if you prefer.5 No more missing a payment if you're out of town or out of stamps.

Building a budget

There are all types of online banking services that can help you manage your budget. But helping you track your spending may be the most crucial.

Many banks allow customers to see exactly how they’re spending their money by automatically categorizing each expense as “groceries,” “entertainment” and so on. Some banks even break that spending into handy graphics, allowing you to visualize just how much of your money you spend on dining out. Other banks allow you to set up specific saving goals, so you can identify what you’re saving for, track your progress and even celebrate your success. All this makes it easier than ever to build and track your personal financial budget.

Online banking security

Of course, banking online raises questions about security. Will your money—and your personal information—be safe?

Most banks take steps to keep your account safe, including secure sign-in procedures, automated alerts about suspicious purchases and other measures to protect you and your money. You can also take measures to protect your personal information and safely use public Wi-Fi.

Accessing money

Even if you don’t have a physical bank to walk into, you still have many ways to access your money. You could connect your debit card with a mobile wallet app on your smartphone and pay digitally. If you need to pay someone back, you can transfer money between accounts to friends or family. And if you need cash, you could visit the ATM or get cash back when you use your debit card.

Customer service

Some problems are just more easily solved by talking to a real person. While you may not get the face-to-face interaction from online banking, you can generally reach out by phone to customer service representatives who spend their days helping solve issues. So if you ever have a problem, you have access to someone who can help at your fingertips

Mobile banking apps

You probably use apps on your smartphone every day. You can manage your online banking just as easily as checking the weather. With a tap of your finger, you’ve got all your account information and banking capabilities available to you. And depending on your phone, your fingerprint can serve as your password to keep your account secure.

Other online banking benefits and advantages

If you haven't touched your checkbook in a while, it's probably because your debit card is doing the heavy lifting. And bank card online services get more robust each day. Most banks let customers compare and order debit cards online, report cards missing or stolen, and get quick and easy credit reports. All of these services combine to make bank cards as convenient and secure as they’ve ever been.

Banks are a wonderful resource, but there are so many things you can do online—from paying your bills to making a savings plan to seeing exactly how much you spent at your favorite takeout joint last month. For these and other reasons, it’s worth getting to know your bank’s online services.

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